News In Focus
Mixed reaction to corroboration proposals
5 September 2012
"Serious concerns" around the proposed abolition of the corroboration requirement in Scots criminal law, included in the legislative programme announced yesterday by the First Minister, have been restated by the Law Society of Scotland.
Rape Crisis Scotland has however welcomed the move.
The corroboration proposal was recommended in the review of criminal evidence and procedure carried out last year by Lord Carloway, now the Lord Justice Clerk, but has aroused strong opposition from the legal profession.
Michael Clancy, Director of Law Reform at the Society, commenting on the proposed bill, said: "We still have serious concerns around the removal of the requirement for corroboration. We believe there is a case for a wider and broader based review of the law of evidence and criminal procedure so we will be looking carefully at the proposed Criminal Justice Bill.”
Sandy Brindley, National Co-ordinator for Rape Crisis Scotland, pointing out that Scotland is one of the very few legal jurisdictions to retain the requirement for corroboration, claimed it had had "a disproportionate impact on crimes experienced primarily by women, such as sexual crime and domestic abuse".
She added: "As most rapes take place in private, with no witnesses and frequently little if any physical injury, our requirement for corroboration means that our justice system is ill equipped to respond effectively to the reality of rape, where most rapes are carried out not by a stranger but by someone known."
Ms Brindley acknowledged that removing corroboration would not in itself be enough to address the situation, as the conviction rate for rape is not significantly different in England & Wales where there is no corroboration requirement, and called for a change in public attitudes, reflected in individual jurors, that "present a further obstacle to women seeking justice for rape".